[BCN editor update: A judge has ordered county clerk Kim Davis to jail for refusing to issue “marriage” licenses to homosexuals.]
A Kentucky county clerk is defying the U.S. Supreme Court by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing she must obey God rather than man. On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the clerk to appear in court on Thursday to explain why she should not be fined or imprisoned for contempt.
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to stay a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling requiring Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples while her religious liberty case proceeds in federal court.
Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether following the Supreme Court’s ruling in June striking down all state marriage laws that define marriage as solely between a man and a woman.
The county clerk explained her actions in a statement:
I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me.
It is a Heaven or Hell decision…I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.
Christian teaching on marriage originates in the book of Genesis, which Jesus affirmed in the New Testament, saying: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.”
Davis went on to explain in her statement that her right to “religious liberty,” enshrined in the First Amendment and the Kentucky Constitution, should allow for her deeply held beliefs to be recognized and accommodated. “That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me.”
David Ermold and David Moore, a same-sex couple, came to the courthouse seeking a marriage license on Tuesday. The couple was informed by Davis that she would not be issuing them one.
“Under whose authority?” Ermold demanded.
“Under God’s authority,” she replied.
“God does not belong in the county clerk’s office,” he retorted.
Davis asked the two to leave or at least back up so others could conduct their business at the clerk’s office.
The couple defiantly pronounced that they would not leave until they had a license, to which Davis replied: “Then you’re going to have a long day.”
CNN reports that fellow Kentucky clerk Casey Davis has protested alongside Kim Davis and insisted Tuesday that “we’ve not tried to prevent” same-sex marriages, and “we’ve only tried to exercise our First Amendment rights,” adding, “There was a lot of people that died for that right and I think we should be able to exercise it.” He pointed out that there are many other courthouses throughout Kentucky where same-sex couples can obtain licenses.
April Miller, who is also seeking to get a marriage license through the Rowan County clerk’s office, concedes that she and her partner could get a license in another county. “But it would set a dangerous precedent to let it go,” she told the New York Times.
According to the Associated Presss, the ACLU of Kentucky has filed a contempt of court motion in federal court against Kim Davis; and a federal judge has ordered the county clerk and her staff to appear in his courtroom on Thursday morning. The ACLU is not seeking jail time for Davis, but rather “financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous” as to compel her immediate compliance without delay.